What questions should I ask my new client?

Growing up, it’s kind-of frowned upon to ask a lot of questions. You don’t want to be seen as stupid so you don’t ask.

It’s exactly the opposite in real life. The more questions you ask your client the smarter and more diligent you look.

With that being said, it’s time to ask your client questions. (Or yourself, if you’re building your own side-project)

Before we start, I’d like to make a quick note that normally, you’d ask — at least some of these questions — before the project begins so you could develop an accurate scope of work (SOW) and price estimate.

As with everything in life, use good judgement.

Don’t blindly ask every single question on my list. Make sure it makes sense for your unique situation and client. And if a question comes up that I didn’t include, still ask it.

You need as much information as possible to build a phenomenal website.

Background Questions

These background questions should give you a good understanding of your client’s business. Make sure these answers are crystal clear.

What do you do or sell?

This is pretty self-explanatory, but make sure you totally understand it.

What problems do your prospects have that your business solves?

People buy things to solve their problems. This will help you craft your copy by evoking emotion because you know how (and when) to press people’s buttons.

Describe your target audience.

Before you can make a website, you must understand the audience you’re creating the website for.

Not only will you want to know their demographics, like their age and gender, but you’ll also want to know their psychographics.

Two of the most important questions are:
  • What motivates your ideal audience?
  • What they value most? Do they want a quick sale or are they willing to pay top dollar? Are they after the most attentive service or the most convenient?
Of course, there are more questions you could ask.

 

What questions do you get from customers (and prospects) a lot and how do you respond to them?

This will help you write copy that relieves visitors’ most common objections and drive them to action. You could also use this if you have a FAQ page.

What is the purpose of the website?

Do they want to increase brand awareness or generate more leads? Increase revenue? Tie the website to a business goal so you understand the client’s underlying motivation for building a website.

Who are your top competitors? Who is the biggest threat and why?

This question is really important.

Many times clients are terrible at explaining what they do, and they rarely describe it in the form of benefits as opposed to features because they’re so close to the product or service themselves.

What they can easily do is rattle off a short list of competitors.

Visit their competitors’ websites, and read the site content — actually read it — piece together any information you can to see where your client fits into the market and how they can be the best in it.

Doing so will result in the best website in the local category.

How are you better than each of these top competitors? What are your differentiator(s)?

A differentiator must be three things:

  • It must be true.
  • It must be important to your target audience.
  • It must be provable.

The problem is most differentiators are wishy washy and fluffy at best.

For example, how many No. 1 realtors have you met?

Probably a lot.

What did his/her tagline mean to you?

Probably nothing because they didn’t prove they were No. 1 in anything.

Ask yourself/your client these questions to drill down their differentiator(s):

  • Do I get things done faster?
  • Do I offer superior service in some way? How?
  • Do I save my customers money or time?
  • Am I more expensive or less expensive than competitors?
  • Do I offer a better guarantee?
  • Am I easier to do business with?
  • What makes me different?
  • Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?

Try to get answers that will evoke emotion in prospects, but make sure it’s genuine.

And if you think price is the only good differentiator, think again. People care about more than just getting the cheapest deals, according to a survey by Yodle.

It found that consumers care about:

  • Higher quality offerings: 72% of consumers report a willingness to pay a local business more in exchange for better goods and services.
  • Personalized experiences: 96% of consumers felt that small businesses did a better job when it came to customizing goods and services to meet clients’ needs.
  • Supporting their community: 48% of consumers report a willingness to pay a local business more in exchange for supporting their community.
  • Convenience: 67% of consumers want SMBs to provide better websites. The most requested feature was the ability to make payments and book appointments online.

Design Questions

These questions will help you get an idea for their design tastes.

How would you describe the “vibe” or “feel” or “voice” of your business? How do you want people to feel when they experience business with you?

This might be a hard question for your client to answer, especially a small business owner. To make it easier, consider asking them to just name a brand or two they admire and why.

Do you have specific company colors or branding guidelines that must be followed?

In a perfect world, the branding style guide will be beautiful. In a decent world, they won’t have guidelines. In a terrible world, they will have mediocre or bad style guidelines.

Don’t be afraid to pushback if their style guidelines are shit (bad fonts, dull colors, outdated icons…).

I don’t think your first few (or hell any) clients will have branding guidelines so usually you can get away with doing what you think is right.

What website(s) do you like and why?

The website doesn’t even have to be a competitors. It can be any site they love the style/design/vibe of. This will give you an idea for their tastes.

What do your current competitors’ websites have that you want?

This will give you insight into the depth of functionality they want as well as the number of pages.

Name the 3 things that are most important in the design of your new website.

This will help you make sure you deliver to their expectations.

How many pages do you need? If you’re not sure, would you like me to make a recommendation?

A page is “Home,” “About,” “Contact,” etc.

Don’t just blindly follow the pages they tell you they want. They may be wrong about how the information should be divided up into pages.

About Page Questions

The about page is really important, so you want to make sure it’s good. These questions will help you build it properly.

Would you like to feature your team on your about page?

I highly recommend doing so. You’ll need a headshot and a short bio (including formal title) and/or social media link(s) for each one, depending on how you design it.

Why did you start your business?

Get them to tell the story of how they started their business. Look out for juicy insights that will help you craft compelling copy.

Try to dig deeper for this one. You want to evoke some sort of emotion in your client so you elicit a good answer.

Maybe they started their business to make money, but why did they choose this particular type of business? What spurred this idea?

What types of actions do you want users to take on your website?

IE: Purchase, Subscribe, Download…

Tell me about yourself.

This will help you craft the story / history sections on the about page. Here are a bunch of questions you can ask to get better answers.

  • How did you arrive at running this business? What path brought you here?
  • What are you known for professionally? What do you have a knack for?
  • What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients? What do your ideal clients say about you?
  • Who have you worked with in the past? And what have you done for them?
  • What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?
  • What are you passionate about personally? What do you really enjoy? What can’t you stop talking about?
  • Where can we find you when you’re not working? What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?
  • How long have you been doing what you do?
  • Where did you grow up and why aren’t you there now?
  • Any volunteer activities you’re crazy about?
  • Any awards or medals, or even medallions? Personal okay, too.
  • What would be impossible for you to give up?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • Anything else you’d like to tell people about yourself?

Logistical Questions

These are the general, admin-like questions.

Do you have any [return, shipping, etc] policies that I should be aware of? Please tell me, if so.

Obviously only ask this question to relevant businesses.

What keywords do you think your prospects and customers are searching for online to find your offering?

This question is a good place to start when doing keyword research, which you’ll have to do before you finish this website project.

It will also be a good starting place for choosing the right words to describe the business.

Do you have a Google Analytics (GA) account?

It’s likely they don’t have an account if they don’t have a website.

You can check websites, like builtwith.com or ghostery, to see what they’re using behind the scenes, if they do have a website.

If you have to create the account, make sure you give them admin rights to their GA accounts and transfer ownership to them once you’re done working together.

Do you have any social media profiles? If so, can you send me the links?

I recommend googling for these yourself. If you’re having trouble finding something, then ask. If they don’t have any, at the very least, consider making them a Facebook Page.

What’s your business location(s), phone number(s) and email address that you want people to be able to contact?

You can probably find this online too. But I always ask because it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to get information on each separate location, if they have multiple locations.

What are your store hours?

If this is a brick-and-mortar business, they likely have store hours. If it’s an online business, then maybe consider getting the hours they’re available during the day for support.

Do you have a URL/domain name?

You need to know whether or not you need to purchase a domain.

If they don’t own one, tell them you can purchase it for them, but they’ll have to reimburse you, or give them detailed instructions on how to purchase one.

If they want you to suggest a domain name, and you’re unsure what to suggest, we’ll go over that soon.

PS: Domains are usually free when you purchase managed WordPress hosting for the first time with GoDaddy.

If you own a domain, where did you purchase it from?

You need to know this so you can connect the domain name to a hosting account. (More on this later)

Do you currently have a hosting provider, such as GoDaddy or Bluehost?

You need a hosting provider in order for your site to go live.

If not, do you need help finding the right hosting provider?

I highly recommend GoDaddy.

Are you doing email marketing? If so, which service are you using, and can you give me access?

When do you need this completed by?

You need to know this so you can connect an email subscribe form to the site.

Ask them when they’d ideally like this completed by. Are they on a strict timeline?

Marketing Questions

Can you send me a high-res logo file(s)?

Many SMBs won’t have a logo, or the one they do have may be poorly designed. If this is your case, consider redesigning their logo or making it text-based.

Do you have a tagline?

Some businesses have a tagline. Ask.

Do you have any specific photos you plan to use or do I need to take and/or find photos for the site?

You’ll likely need to get photos for the site yourself. I would probably not ask this question, and just assume that they expect you do it. I added it just so you think about it.

Do you have any customer testimonials – online or off – that I could use for your website?

You can sometimes find these by just googling, especially if they’re a local business. So research this before you ask.

If not, can you provide names of a few customers I can contact for testimonials?

Testimonials (or even better case studies) are so important if you want to increase trust from new visitors. Go the extra mile and reach out to a few customers. It will also help you learn more about the website’s target audience, which will help you design a better website.

How should I get all of this information?

While you could email your client a questionnaire, I recommend not being lazy and actually asking your client these questions face-to-face or over the phone.

You’ll get the best answers that way because you can ask follow-up questions right away, saving back-and-forth emails.

More importantly though, interviewing your client in real time will lead to more colorful answers. People don’t usually hold back over the phone or in person, as they would via email or G-Docs. It’s just less work to talk than to type. And definitely less daunting.

Think of it like an interview for a cool story you’re writing.

Ask if you can record the conversation (I use TapeACall), in case you miss any nuggets of wisdom. If you don’t want to transcribe the call yourself, like me, then you can pay a small fee to get it transcribed via Rev.

Finally, you can leave your client alone for a while, and get to work.

Get the resources from the section.